Posted in Writing

Coloured Judgement

A post in praise of colouring

cover of colouring for calm
More effective than Prozac but much more addictive

One of this summer’s publishing sensations has been the adult colouring book. In this context, “adult” doesn’t have the same connotations as in “adult films”. They are simply colouring books designed to appeal to grown-ups.

Why colouring? Why now?

In a culture characterised by quick response times and a general desire for instant gratification, any activity that cannot be hurried, from colouring to crochet, from needlepoint to knitting, provides a welcome excuse to slow down and savour the moment. The regular activity of rubbing a pencil back and forth to fill in a defined space without going over the lines can no more be hurried than knitting can ever be a speed sport. Colouring relaxes the brain into a meditative state.

But what I don’t get is the need to create special colouring books for adults. I’m happy colouring children’s books, filled with mermaids, unicorns and other distractions from the stresses of daily life.

cover of Lady Chatterley's lover
Literary colour

Just as J K Rowling’s publishers brought out special editions of Harry Potter books to facilitate unembarrassed reading on the commuter train, I think they should simply camouflage the covers of children’s colouring books for adult consumption.

So if you spot me any time soon hunched over a book covered in brown paper, wielding a blue pencil, it doesn’t mean I’m personally censoring Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I’ll just be colouring in Bob the Builder’s dungarees.

cover of Bob the Builder colouring book
“Can we colour it? Yes, we can! “

This post was originally written for the September issue of Hawkesbury Parish News, the local community newspaper serving the village in which I have lived for nearly 25 years and for which I write a monthly column on any topic that takes my fancy as the deadline approaches. (There’s nothing like an imminent deadline for focusing the mind.) If you enjoyed this column, you might also like these recent articles: 

Posted in Family, Travel

A Holiday Treat

Strawberry
Image via Wikipedia

Tucking into muesli and strawberry yoghurt one morning during the half term break, I am startled by the strength and depth of the flavour.  I do  a double-take and inspect the bowl as if I might find a hidden mystery ingredient that’s making it taste so good.  My search is fruitless, (or as fruitless as Marks and Spencer 48% Fruit Muesli allows), and I surrender, sitting back to savour this unexpected pleasure.  I let the mixture roll voluptuously across my palate like a wine taster, seeking the right vocabulary to describe the complex sensation.

Why does my breakfast taste so different today?  It’s much the same breakfast that I have every day of the week, though the type of yoghurt may vary slightly, depending on what’s currently on special offer at the supermarket – or whether I’ve misread the label.  Cherry, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb – hurrah; forest fruits – bother, I thought it was blueberry, but still it will do.

How can this familiar taste suddenly strike me as exotic?  I gaze across the table and out of the caravan window for a clue – and this gesture is in itself a clue.  Usually, I’m not facing a window at breakfast.  Nor am I sitting at a table.  First gulp of the yoghurt is grabbed as I pass by the kitchen counter, a chaser to the handful of tablets I take on waking (thyroxine for an underactive thyroid, sulfasalazine for rheumatoid arthritis).  Before the next spoonful, I whisk upstairs to give a ten-minute warning to my sleeping husband and daughter; the next is grabbed on the way to the utility room to iron the latter’s school uniform.  My morning yoghurt may or may not be mixed with muesli, depending on hungry I’ve been on waking.

I thrust a few coins into my daughter’s purse to pay for her toast at morning break, then grab another spoon of yoghurt on the way to pack her schoolbag.  (Better not mix those two actions up.)

Occasionally as I dash about on my early morning auto-pilot course, I recall my lovely, late friend Eileen’s insistence that there are no calories in anything you eat standing up.  If there’s some raisin bread in the breadbin, I’ll add a slice of fruit toast and butter, confident that it will pass my waistline bywithout sticking.

On workdays, my mind is far too full of early morning routine tasks to spare a thought for the enjoyment of my breakfast.  Now, on holiday, with time and energy to spare, I wonder what other pleasures my usual morning rush makes me miss.  And vow, when I go back to work next week, to take the time each day to smell the muesli.